In Their Own Words
Read passages from letters written by Texas soldiers who died in Iraq.
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For the feature article “Letters Home,” we photographed correspondence written by Texans who died in Iraq. Because we could not include all the letters we received from soldiers’ families in the pages of the magazine, the text of some additional letters appears below. We have not corrected spelling or grammar; instead, the letters appear exactly as they were written.
As of the publication of “Letters Home,” 75 Texans had died in Iraq.
First Lieutenant Doyle Hufstedler III, 25, Abilene
To his wife, Leslie, who was expecting their first child. Hufstedler was killed on March 31, 2004, when an improvised explosive device hit his armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah. Leslie gave birth to their daughter, Grace, in May.
27 Nov 2003
. . . I received a few letters last night and was so thriled to here it went well. Hopefully I will be able to call on 1 Dec and find out how that appoptment went. Keep sending the tapes! They do make me sad but I still want to listen to them. I think its realy cool you are going to be able to viedo tape the next ultrasound! So, do we find out the sex on the 1st or after that? I just cant wait to find out I’ve been thinking alot about name and I realy do like my name for a boy but I understand you don’t I did however like you suggestion of Matthew David But I kind of worry about what Matt would think! This just poped in to my head this morning but thought for a gril, Chesson Ashely, Im not sure I like it though. It just kinda poped in to my head like I said. . . .
. . . Hay while I am thinking about it there are some things I would like you to send me if its not to much trouble. Some of it my be difficult to do and if it is don’t even bother. I need a coffe cup, thermos, pack of cigarette lighters, and 4 package of 1st Leutnet Pin on Rank (black). Ill need the rank for when I get promoted in a few months. That will be nice it a realy big raise on top of the raise we will get in January. Hopefully we will still be able to save some money after the little one comes.
You will have to let me know how the Aggie TV game goes even though I think I already know the outcome. Is it in College Staion or Austin? I guess its not realy that important. I just kinda want to know. Well I am going to drop this in the mail and see if any showed up for me today! I dout it though most everyone has the day off for the holiday. I love you so much and miss you teribilly. I can’t wait I get home! I love you baby!
29 Nov 2003
I so much enjoyed geting to talk to you on Thanksgiving espicialy for so long. I hope I said I love you enough! I didn’t think we would actully be able to talk for forty mineuts as most of our phone conversations are so matter of fact. I guess with more time to talk we didn’t have to worry about matter of fact things. I miss you so much and can’t wait till I get home and can hold you in my arms. I love you baby.
I’ll tell you what I am supper excited waiting to get my packages you sent, espicialy the one with the Christmas tree. I am going to put it up as soon as I get it just like you always want to put it up the day after Thanks Giving. Just think next Christmass we will have a little one to buy presents for. How nice will that be! I tell you what I just cant wait to see what you got me, espicial since Harrold went with you to get it. I absolutely can’t think of what it might be. Guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
Our mission went well yesterday and we even found some more weapons! We found 3 RPG-7 launchers, 8 RPG rounds, and 181 mm mourtor round. Today we are back out at the ASP which has become extremly boreing most of the time. Its kinda nice however because every one leaves you alone for the most part.
I think tomorrow I will give myself a hair cut and take a hot shower if they have water. Hopefully we will have mail tomorrow. Also as we have not received any in about 3 days on account of the holiday. As always baby I love you and miss you, and I’ll meet you in my dreams!
. . . I am just so excited about Grace coming and can’t wait to hold here and you in my arms and take walks in the evening, except know with a stroller. I can’t wait to take you for ice cream and just go for drives. Just think I’ll be home soon and we will be doing all of those things. I love you so much baby and will call and write very soon.
!I love you!
9 Dec 2003
. . . Carrying on I got several letters from you yester day from the 13th and 19th of November. In one of them you talked about stayin in Charrlotte to have the baby! I thing that is a good idea, espicialy since you like the doctor so much, and besides that means our baby won’t be a geographical yank. . . .
. . . I am so excited about being a father, its going to be so much fun! And yes we can try to eat lunch every day when I get home. That would be awesom.
Master Sergeant Kelly Hornbeck, 36, Fort Worth
To his parents, Jeff and Camille. Hornbeck served in the Army’s Special Forces. He died on January 18, 2004, of wounds that were sustained two days earlier, when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle south of Samarra.
Mom + Dad,
. . . My team is performing great. I could not be happier with them. I hope and pray that things continue to go as smoothley as they have and we’ll all be home safely, and soon. I love you both.
Second Lieutenant Jonathan Rozier, 25, Katy
To his wife, Jessica. Their son Justin, who Rozier briefly mentions, was seven months old at the time this was written. Rozier was killed on July 19, 2003, when his unit was fired upon by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire in Baghdad.
9 Jun 03
. . . I can’t wait to get home. When I’m not busy & I sit down, I start to think of home. I imagine what those first few minutes when I get off the plane will be like. I think about seeing you there with Justin. Seeing you smile and possibly cry as I walk up. Grabbing you and hugging you for a long time, tightly. Giving you kisses & wiping away your tears. It makes me happy to imagine that. I think about the first day, week, visiting family. Being able to sleep with you again, sharing a warm bed on a cold night, whispering to each other in the dark. Holding & kissing you . . .
I miss it all. I want to hold your hand in the grocery store. I want to put my arm around when we watch a movie. I want to have you come up & kiss me just because & I’ll do the same. To hear you say “I Love you.” I love you too.
I know I didn’t do all of that all the time before I left. Now that I’ve had to do without for so long I know that I was wrong. You are my most precious treasure & I didn’t keep you right. I’m so sorry. When I get back I want to start all over again. Start from scratch & get it right this time. I want to Honeymoon for the rest of our lives. Always to be amazed by each other. To always love & always want each other. I’ll kiss you right when I get home, you’ll see. Until then, close your eyes & think of me. I’m saying I love you & if you listen you can hear me. If you get sad, I’ll be there, holding you, wiping away your tears.
I love you
Lance Corporal Aaron Austin, 21, Sunray
To his fiancee, Tiffany Frank. Austin proposed to Frank a month earlier, over the phone from Iraq. He was killed on April 26, 2004, when he and his fellow Marines came under heavy enemy fire in Fallujah.
Thursday, April 15, 2004 4:45 PM
to whom it may concern,
my relationship with jesus christ is close he has helped me through alot and is definitaly helping me through the situation i am faced with now. i beleive in his angels of protection and beleive all things work out for the good for those who beleive in his name. i know i slip alot but beleive in the blood he shed for our sins. i hope to make a positive effect spiritually on those who surround me. . . .
Sergeant Henry Ybarra III, 32, Austin
To his father, Henry II. Lilian, who Ybarra mentions having spoken to the night before, was his wife and the mother of his three children. Ybarra was killed on September 11, 2003, in Balad, north of Baghdad, when the tire he was changing on a ten-ton cargo truck exploded.
27 Feb 03
How is it going? Me good. I got to talk to Lilian last night. My birthday went ok. I work nights here so I am off during the day. How is the weather there? Here it is breezy at times. We have had about 4 sand storms since I have been here. The area I am at is called Camp Udari. It is 15 miles from the Iraq border. We are ready to push forward into Iraq. We are just waiting for the word. I am ready to go and get it over with. I don’t see the war lasting very long. We have the best attack helicopters around. Not just the best but alot. The 101st Airbase division from Ft. Campbell will be moving into the area anyday now. I also hear 1st cav from Hood will be joining us here. I have no fears. I know God will protect me. The day of my birthday we had to put our protective mask on. The camp picked up a false chemical preserve. What a way to wake up on your 32nd birthday. Dad if you can see the equipment here in Kuwait that we have you would feel sorry for Iraq. We have just about everything you can think of. Well Dad just wanted to say a quick hello and let you know I am ok. Write you soon.
Love your son,